Casa Manana525 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, TX, USA
ABOUT THIS THEATRE
After the city of Dallas was selected to be the site of the official Texas Centennial Celebration in 1936, Amon G. Carter began making his own plans for a celebration in Fort Worth. The plan was to develop several acres of a nearby cow pasture into a midway of exhibits, sideshows, a Wild West show and a musical circus. At the center of the complex was a large outdoor amphitheatre and restaurant called Casa Mañana, or "The House Of Tomorrow." The plan quickly changed into action when Amon G. Carter hired Broadway producer Billy Rose for $1,000 a day for 100 days to produce the "show of shows" for Fort Worth. In a few weeks the cow pasture was transformed into 40 magical acres and Casa Mañana was born. The outdoor amphitheatre housed the largest revolving stage in the world. A large moat surrounded the stage and fountains were used to project a wall of water to be used as the curtain for the stage. The restaurant and theatre complex could accommodate up to 4,000 patrons for dinner and the show. Casa Mañana was so successful that plans were made to bring it back each summer for four consecutive years. Soon thereafter, however, because of the costliness of the project and the threat of World War II, only memories of Casa Mañana remained. The entire complex was eventually dismantled, as most of the steel and other useable materials were recycled for the war effort. Yet, the dream of Casa Mañana refused to die. The dream was brought to life again during the fall of 1957 by the late James H. Snowden, Jr. an oil man and president of the Fort Worth Opera Association, and Melvin O. Dacus, the then-manager of the Fort Worth Opera Association. These two gentlemen proposed to the Fort Worth City Council the formation of a non-profit corporation to build and operate a theatre complex primarily focused on the production of Broadway musicals. In a record-breaking 114 days, the construction of Casa Mañana Theatre was complete. The new Casa Mañana Theatre was a magnificent fully-enclosed, air-conditioned, aluminum-domed theatre. The house seated 1,805 patrons and introduced audiences to "theatre-in-the-round," a stage configuration that featured a round stage in the center of the theatre, with audiences in seated sections that completely surround the stage. With no backstage area, the actors and stagehands would use the surrounding concourse and aisles to move set pieces, props and other materials on and off-stage. Although this unique feature would limit the size of the productions on-stage, the action was constantly moving from one scene to the next. And with the last row only 36 feet from the edge of the stage, patrons fell in love with the intimate feeling of being in the audience at Casa Mañana Theatre. Casa Mañana's black-tie opening was on July 5, 1958. The production of Can-Can and the new theatre made national theatrical headlines and marked the return of "live theatre" to Fort Worth. Casa Mañana continues to realize the meaning of its namesake -- "The House of Tomorrow.